Leaders from one end of the Texas-Mexico border to the other said Friday they want Gov. Rick Perry to tone down the scary rhetoric and to get real about solving problems in their hometowns. And, by the way, they would also like to be consulted about security plans that affect the communities where they live.All I can say is, "It's about time." The Governor has been hyping "scary rhetoric" on the border for years - in 2006 it was his principal campaign theme. Parallel to this political positioning has been a series of bad security choices, from massive grants frittered away on patrol overtime to spending millions on the TDEX database and financing do-nothing "fusion centers." In all, the state wasted upwards of nine figures on the Governor's politically aimed border security programs - an investment for which the state has very little to show.
This was not done for the benefit of folks on the border, but to scare white voters elsewhere in the state with nativist rhetoric and symbolism, playing on culture-war themes as pretense for security and immigration policy. It also bought the Governor law enforcement allies from the border (Sheriffs receiving the grants) who were willing to say nice things about him in the media. But most folks from the region didn't benefit - especially in the urban areas where most people live.
Not only was Governor Perry's border-security money basically shoveled down a hole, the wasted dollars and years represent an even more significant opportunity cost, fiddling away time and resources on pork-barrel politics while a crisis mounted in Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and Reynosa (sister cities across the river from El Paso, Laredo and McAllen). Given that record, the Governor must hope that voters confuse activity with achievement. To be fair, though: They probably will.